By William Madouk Garang
A group of traders who supplied the food items to cantonment sites announced their intention to storm into National Transitional Committee (NTC) head office with their families to demand their unsettled debts.
The group of suppliers said they have been engaging with the head of NTC, Tut Gatluak for last three year but nothing materialized thus they decided to stage sit-in at NTC office on Tuesday 19 July.
In a statement seen by No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper, Dak Panyang the head of the group said that after several attempts Tut Gatluak finally deployed armed men at his gate to block them away.
“The suppliers have therefore decided together with their families and employees to camp at the office of the Chairman until their grievances are attended to,” Panyang said.
“We have vowed never to be intimidated by any force whatsoever in the quest to have our arrears paid” he added.
The suppliers explained that they met Gatluak in April who assured to pay their dues within three weeks but when time elapsed, he, Gatluak deployed armed security personnel to block them from accessing him.
“In a meeting held in his office, dated 6th April 2022, he pledged to partially pay the suppliers within three weeks effective from the date of the meeting. When the three weeks elapsed, the Chairman decided to deploy armed security men at the gate of his office,” they said.
In January this year, a group of traders who claim to have been supplying food items and medicines to cantonment sites said they are demanding payment of more than 160 million US dollars from the NTC.
The group of about 50 traders alleged that they have been supplying the forces with food in Juba, Torit Ashwa and Kendila in Yei since 2019.
In his rebuttal, Gatluak who doubles as Presidential advisor on security affairs admitted accumulating the dues but said it does not reach the amount as claimed by traders.
In mid May 2022, a businessman identified as James and was contracted by the National Transitional Committee to supply food to military sites, reportedly died because he couldn’t pay for medical bills.
The NTC is a body mandated to supervise the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement, 2018.
Kasia Deng, a representative of the suppliers told media earlier that they spent all their income on the contract with NTC, as the payment delays this crippled their businesses and made them vulnerable to debts.